Over a year ago, someone left a comment here in reference to a book that was in the process of being created, with the theme “feelings.” The authors performed web searches using the keyword “feel.”  That search brought them to this entry, in which I stated: I just want to feel like a normal, healthy person.

The person who left the comment asked if I would allow them to publish the photo of me knitting on the beach (also from the above-mentioned entry).  I responded with a “yes,” and soon received an email advising me that there were thousands of applicants, and I would hear back if I made the final cut. I honestly didn’t think anything would come of it.

Several months later, I received notification that my photo had been selected to be included in the book, We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion.   Even though I signed a release form, I still found it hard to believe that this was actually going to happen.

Another email arrived today, informing me that the book is due to be released on December 1st, and I will be receiving a complimentary copy. I also received an invitation to attend the launch party on December 5th, in New York City.

How cool is that?

Song of the Day:  Fame by David Bowie

I’ve always liked the idea of Holidailies and decided to give it a shot this year.   I don’t know if I’ll be successful  – the thought of posting an entry every single day until January 5th is a daunting one.  But, what the heck.  It’s worth a try.

Today’s prompt:  Introduce yourself

I am 54 years old but don’t feel or act my age.  One of the things to which I attribute my youthful attitude is the fact that I am surrounded by teenagers five days a week (while school is in session).  I work in a computer lab in what is classified as an inner city school.  For the record, this is the same high school I graduated from in 1972.

I have two daughters – Rebecca, who will be 22 years old on Sunday,

and Leigh, who is 20.

Both girls are presently in college, which means that we are really feeling the squeeze financially.  Rebecca will earn her Bachelor’s degree next year (after finally settling on Sociology after switching her Major six times), so the money situation should improve somewhat.  (The girls are on their own as far as Master’s degrees go, and, in Leigh’s case, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  We’ll help them as much as we can, but they’re going to have to take out large loans.)

Daniel (my 2nd husband) and I will celebrate our 4th anniversary in March.  Being married to someone who suffers from chronic pain is not an easy row to hoe, but Daniel is very helpful, patient, understanding, thoughtful and loving.   I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

Speaking of chronic pain, I have Fibromyalgia (accompanied by Irritable Bowel Syndrome and chronic fatigue), Degenerative Disc disease, a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, pinched nerves,  Anticardiolipin antibody, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (mild), and a persistent pain in the right shoulder blade that drives me out of my ever loving mind.

Our nest is pretty close to empty.  Rebecca lives at her father’s place, and Leigh is away at school.  On the other hand, we do have dearly loved “fur children,” Eleanor Rigby, a cockapoo, and Penny Lane, a dachshund.

I am an avid reader. Knitting is a more recent obsession, having learned how to do it only about a year and a half ago.  Music has always played a very important role in my life.  My tastes range from The Beatles to Linkin Park to Mendelssohn to Modest Mouse to Conor Oberst to Broadway soundtracks to The Talking Heads to U2 to the B-52s to Elvis Costello to Radiohead to The Clash to The Shins to opera, and so on.

To sum things up, I yam what I yam.

Reading: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Song of the Day:  I Yam What I Yam from the Popeye Soundtrack

These Vagabond Shoes

November 30, 2008

We had a really nice Thanksgiving with The Ex and his mother.  (She was on her best behavior, by the way.)   It was a very low-key holiday, which suited me just fine.   I was especially grateful to not have to listen to the Obama bashing I’m quite certain was spewing forth from the mouths of my father and brother-in-law.

I’ve been off work since 11:30 on Tuesday.  One of the best things about being off is sleeping late.   For me, “sleeping in” means 6:00 am, or 7:00 if I’m really lucky.  Therefore, I was shocked when I woke up yesterday and saw that it was 10:00 am. I could easily get used to this.

I could also get used to evenings like the one I’m enjoying right now.  After spending seven hours on my feet in the kitchen a couple of days this past week, my body and mind needed to rest.  So, I’ve been sitting here in the family room, knitting in front of the fire, and listening to tunes on my ipod, which is set to “shuffle.”

It’s a hoot to listen to songs that jump from John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” to Cher singing “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (from “The Glory of Gershwin”), to Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army,” to U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love), to “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by The Temptations, to “Don’t Worry About the Government” by The Talking Heads, to “I Want You,” by Marvin Gaye, to Elton John’s “Burn Down the Mission,” to Radiohead’s “Street Spirit,” to “1999” by Prince, to Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea,” to “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra, to “Invisible” by Modest Mouse,  to Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” to “Jump, Jive and Wail” by Louis Prima, to “Jigga What/Faint” by Jay-Z with Linkin Park, to “Oh Darling” by The Beatles, to Joe Jackson’s “It’s Different For Girls,” to “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, to “Sea Legs” by The Shins, to “Requiem, Op. 48, Pie Jesu.”

This is the life.

Song of the Day:  This is the Life by Amy MacDonald

“And the songs they get louder
Each one better than before

And you’re singing the songs
Thinking this is the life.”

Thanksgiving 2008

November 27, 2008

Today I am thankful for the usual things – the love of my husband, family and friends, the joy of pets, having a job that provides health insurance (including dental and optical), a roof over my head and food on my table.  I am also grateful for the kindness of my readers.  The friendship and support you have shown me over the years has helped me get through some really hard times.

I am also very appreciative of the nice comments about my “sharves.”   Some of you suggested that I try to sell them.  I did consider etsy, but I’ve heard that other knitters, far more experienced and skilled than I am, have had disappointing results with their etsy endeavors.

One of my co-workers has expressed an interest in buying a sharf, but I don’t know how much to charge.  Depending on the yarn, the materials expense is only $10 to $15.  The big thing is the amount of work involved.  Creating a sharf is labor intensive – it takes me about a month to knit one.  Any suggestions on pricing would be most welcome.

Sasha, you asked about surplus stock. I have lots of yarn left over (I’m pretty sure I have enough for any of the sharves featured in my last entry) , and I would be happy to knit whatever you want according to your color specifications.   This is just a sampling of my supply of sharf yarn.

Now for Thanksgiving dinner…  For the past several years, I’ve been alternating hosting holiday gatherings with my sister, Michele.  It’s her turn to do Thanksgiving but she didn’t want to invite The Ex and his mother.  Ex MIL  has Alzheimer’s, but that’s not why people don’t enjoy her company.  The truth of the matter is that she’s rude.   What’s worse, she’ll make an insulting remark and then repeat it over and over because she doesn’t remember that the cruel words were already uttered.

Anyway, we always include The Ex and his mother in our holiday plans.   Otherwise, they’d be alone, and I’d feel terrible.  Consequently, we won’t be going to Michele’s this year.  Since I’ll be hosting Christmas, I didn’t want to do Thanksgiving, too.  Therefore, I told The Ex he should do it and he agreed.

So, that’s where we’re going this afternoon.  I’m bringing pumpkin pies (recipe courtesy of Mary), brownies, and a Mexican chili cheese dip that I’d better go prepare before any more time slips away from me.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Song of the Day:  My Thanksgiving by Don Henley

A couple of you mentioned MonAvie in the comments section recently.  That was the first “unnecessary” expense I eliminated when it became apparent that we would have to do some serious belt-tightening.  Since canceling my “autoship,” I’ve returned to the Land of Deep Fatigue.  Believe me, there are a lot of places I’d much rather revisit, Hawaii, for instance

Seriously, I am so tired by late afternoon, I can barely speak.   One upside to this is that I fall asleep almost as soon as I close my eyes. After all the nights I’ve spent tossing and turning and longing for Morpheus to cradle me in his arms, I have to say that it’s a wonderful thing to slip into slumberland so swiftly.

Unfortunately, I have a problem staying asleep.  I wake up quite a few times throughout the night, for a variety of reasons including pain, my bladder, doggie disturbances and a snoring spouse.  Consequently, I don’t feel rested when I wake up.  Non-restorative sleep affects my pain level, as well.

Anyway, back to eliminating expenses.  Monavie isn’t the only casualty in the budget-slashing massacre.  My Christmas list has been cut almost in half.  Last year, I gave gifts to thirty-three people.   Besides family, there were friends and co-workers (including a Secret Santa) on my list.  This year, the number of gift recipients has been whittled down to eighteen.  (That’s still a large number, but bear in mind that there are twenty-one people in my family.)   Six of those people will be receiving knitted items.

My Friend, mother and cousin are getting a “sharf.”  (I’m keeping some of the shawl/scarves shown below for myself, by the way.)  As you can see, they can be worn in several different ways.

My father, grandmother and ex MIL are getting afghans.

Speaking of Christmas, I’m going to the Christmas Tree Shop in Danbury, CT with my mother early tomorrow morning, so I’d better hit the sack.

Song of the Day:  Goodnight by The Beatles

Have You Any Wool

October 19, 2008

Even though I’m in a lot of pain, I’m trying to make sure to have some life in my life, so I went to the Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck yesterday.   We left at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until 8:30 p.m.  My back is killing me, and my legs are cramping from all that walking and standing but it was well worth it.  I just love that festival.  In fact, I might go back today.

I’ve never seen rabbits like this before.  They look like huge puffballs.

This llama is named My Sweet Prince, and I can see why.  He was very friendly, and even a bit flirtatious, if you can imagine such a thing.

This sheep was trying to climb over its enclosure to get in with his or her neighbors.

I bought some deeply discounted yarn, which made me pretty happy.   The lighter blue is a mohair blend, and will be knit into a cowl hood/scarf.  The darker blue is for my first pair of socks.

I also picked up a couple of felted gourds to go with the felted pumpkin I got at last year’s festival.

Another thing I’d like to mention is today’s Simple Abundance essay.  It begins with this quote from Oscar Wilde:  Nowadays we are all of us so hard up that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments.

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes:  “All women need more compliments in their lives… We need to hear more of them, even if we have to give them to ourselves.  But, most of all, we need to bask in them… It’s interesting that the first dictionary definition of a compliment is ‘an expression of esteem.’  Perhaps we have a difficult time accepting compliments because deep down we don’t believe we deserve them… Today, be receptive.  Start with the assumption that you’re beautiful, dazzling, absolutely fabulous… Every time someone pays you a compliment, accept it as if an angel had just whispered Spirit’s appreciation… We’re all so fragile, especially when we put on a brave face.  A sincere compliment can penetrate beneath even the most sophisticated masks to soothe troubled souls.”

I was struck by the timeliness of this essay because I’ve been receiving an unusually high number of compliments lately.   One day this past week, a girl came into the computer lab and was writing her name on the sign-in sheet next to my desk.  I heard her say “You’re pretty,” and looked behind me to see who she was talking to.   I was truly shocked when I realized she was talking to me.  (This is not something a fifty-four year old expects to hear, especially from a teenager.)  I thanked her with a big smile, and told her how gorgeous she is.   The next day, a young male substitute Teaching Assistant (who is in the process of writing a book – for which he already has an agent and publisher –  about having Asperger’s Syndrome, combined with his experiences on the Appalachian Trail)  asked me if I had any daughters.  When I acknowledged that I have two, he said, “They must be very beautiful, just like their mother.”  I was absolutely floored.

At the Sheep and Wool festival, I was amazed and pleased by all the compliments I received about my “sharf.”   My cousin, Kathy, was as delighted for me as I was for myself.

Sarah Ban Breathnach is right when she says “Just as words can hurt, words can heal.”   I’ve been so down lately, these compliments couldn’t have come at a better time.  The kindness that has been coming my way really does help to offset some of the stress I’ve been under.  And, much of that kindness has come from you, my attractive, smart, compassionate, wonderful readers.  Pass on a compliment today.

Song of the Day:  Sheep by Pink Floyd

My plans for spring break didn’t go as expected. I only made it to one appointment (with the pain management specialist. The first facet joint injections are scheduled for May 2nd.). That was on Tuesday. I haven’t been out of the house since then because I’ve been laid low by a pretty nasty cold. Every day I feel worse instead of better.

I had been counting the days until spring break for weeks. I can’t begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to it. To add insult to injury, the weather has been spectacular. And I’m stuck in the house, sick. It’s just not right.

Yesterday, I had to decline an invitation to go to the Botanical Gardens with my cousin. On Sunday, I might have to bow out of a trip to NYC to see Spamalot. This really sucks.

Thank goodness for books. I read (and very much enjoyed) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and then moved on to The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (much lighter fare, but still enjoyable enough).

When I haven’t been reading, I’ve been knitting. This is a shawl-type scarf I’m working on. (It looks lacier in person. The yarn is 100% natural silk. By the way, I also made that afghan.)

I feel pretty miserable right now, so I’ll have to cut this short. I hope that everyone else is having a better time than I am.

Song of the Day: Adelaide’s Lament from Guys and Dolls

A person can develop la grippe,
La grippe.
La post nasal drip.
With the wheezes
And the sneezes
And a sinus that’s really a pip!

From a lack of community property
And a feeling she’s getting too old
A person can develop a bad, bad cold!